A Separate Peace

Have you ever pretended to be super happy for your BFF when they win an award when, really, you just wanted to rip it out of their undeserving, ungrateful, lazy… We’ll stop before we take it too far. In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, Gene has trouble with the fact that his friend Phineas is always in the limelight—and he takes some pretty extreme actions to try to make up for it. Talk about jealousy issues. This video will prompt you to think about the relationship between our own successes and how we view others’ accomplishments. Just promise us you’ll stop having revenge fantasies about stabbing your friend with a plastic crown after losing the Homecoming Queen title to her last year. Step. Away. From. The. Tiara.

American LiteratureAll American Literature
Post-1945 American Literature
AuthorKnowles - John Knowles
FormNovel
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureAmerican Literature
Post-1945 LiteratureAll Post-1945 Literature Videos
Post-1945 American Literature
ThemesFear
Friendship
Identity
Jealousy
Memory and the Past
Rules and Order
War and Warfare
Youth

Transcript

00:26

Gene and Phineas are friends . . . . . . but that pesky green monster keeps getting

00:30

in the way. And while healthy competition between friends

00:33

can be good for the soul. . . . . . Gene had a little problem watching his

00:36

friend come out on top. So if jealousy and resentment can ruin even

00:40

the best of friendships . . . . . . we have to wonder: Is it possible for

00:44

human beings to be truly happy for someone else's good fortune?

00:48

Judging from the current crop of journalism . . .

00:50

. . . it looks like we're more than happy to root for someone on their way up . . .

00:54

. . . and even happier to watch them on the way down.

00:57

If "No news is good news". . . . . . then maybe we just don't want anything

01:01

to do with someone else's happiness. But c'mon, we can give you lots of examples

01:05

of people bending over backwards to help their fellow man.

01:08

Doesn't that prove that we're capable of celebrating when good things happen to our neighbors?

01:13

Yeah, but you may have noticed that no one's out there volunteering to build a house for

01:17

these guys. Maybe our ability to enjoy someone else's

01:21

success hinges more on where we are in our lives . . .

01:24

. . . than where they are in theirs. Maybe it's just a whole lot easier to cheer

01:28

for someone else when things are going your way, too.

01:31

So, which is it? Are we an unselfish bunch of do-gooders that love seeing good things

01:37

happen to others . . . . . . or are we an envious horde of miscreants

01:41

waiting for - and thoroughly enjoying - others' misfortunes?

01:44

Hard to say. We'll let you try to figure it out. Go ahead...

01:48

Shmoop amongst yourselves.